poemimage

Where text meets image. Where the visual intersects the literary.

I sent five ink drawings to a poet.

For the cover of her book with a theme – dreams, running throughout the powerful, prophetic poems.

I selected the drawings from two sketchbooks filling simultaneously, slowly, sometimes on the subway, sometimes in a cafe.

I work in these sketchbooks, as well as accordion sketchbooks, on and off, sometimes obsessively & intricately,  sometimes less so.

I love ink drawing and the history of ink drawings – the contrast of line, design. To be honest I don’t want to do ink drawings, it’s inescapable & too pleasurable. An addiction of sorts.

My early heroes were Aubrey Beardsley and later Jan Toorop.

Today I find myself mesmerized by the line of Pict or Runic art and the heavier B&W contrasts in lino & woodcuts.

I have a book from the early 1900s & the author is railing against modernity in ink drawings.

He’s right about traditional, technical skill but quite misses the point.

The quest to return to what was lost in our origins is not determined by accuracy in depiction.

But rather seeing the spirit of the thing.

Or what we imagine is the spirit of the thing.

 

 

JFK at Woodstock

Just before Jimi Hendrix played the Star Spangled Banner
A wave went through the crowd.
He’s here.

Sleeping girls with feet caked in mud stirred.
Boys asleep with long wet hair awoke.
He’s here.

Potheads spinning up looked down.
Potheads coming down looked up.
He’s here.

Country Joe and Buffalo Springfield and Melanie
saw something moving like a river & coming into view.
He’s here.

He spoke without using a mic.
Ask not what your country can remember for you.
Ask what you can remember for your country.
The crowd applauded and gave him a standing ovation.

‘Inauguration Day man,’ the guy next to me said.
I looked at him closely.

The pottery in the next to last image is of Cucuteni-Trypillian neolithic heritage. I thought it played off the idea of ‘pothead’ as well as being a vessel the motorcade passed through. The images superimposed over JFK in the third image are the Sri Yantra diagram and a detail from the Book of Kells representing JFK’s ancestry. JFK loved poetry and read for pleasure so these are perhaps fitting images of tactile and spiritual deep time.

I do not claim copyright on original images. I have created new, non-commercial artworks for the purpose of parody or commentary.

 

HABITS by Majlinda Bashllari

Around here we measure everything

words, costs, speeds–

so nobody gets hurt

be sorry et cetera.

Define and predict: the span of germs,

the time of dinosaurs,

the era of humans.

Expiry dates on foods

favour short-lived romances

over the lifetime ones.

We’re being practical.

We measure tumours.

Sizes disturb us

same as their unyieldingness.

We keep notes. Calculate and file.

Out of stubbornness

we look for equals.


The whereabouts of clouds

we know precisely. Not so sure

about our thoughts,


we get near them,

they dodge

and wave –


young hands inside a steep creek.

Realm of flesh fingers that measure

the cruelty of flow.

Born in Albania, Majlinda Bashllari is the author of two poetry collections, Një udhë për në shtëpi (A road to home), published in Tirana, Albania (Morava, 2007) & Love is a very long word, published by Guernica Editions in 2016. Bashllari’s work has appeared in numerous Albanian art and literature magazines and in Albanian anthologies of essays and short stories. She lives in Toronto.

Rice Pudding and Rumi

All I wanted was a can of rice pudding. After a long day I wanted a reward. Not a drink. Not dope. Just some rice pudding.


In other stores I’ve seen cans of rice pudding beside the Devon cream near the condensed milk or in the baking goods section.


I thought of her, who I lost, and how she would heat pudding and serve it topped with Devon cream. I wondered who she was serving now.


The staff had no clue. One said aisle 13 with a blank stare.
‘Isn’t it with the pudding?’ said the one with centipede eyebrows.
I was determined to find the rice pudding section.

A woman without a shopping cart or purse or umbrella studied a jar in aisle 13 and then a bag in the organic section freezer. I figured she was the store detective or an immigrant figuring things out or maybe somebody lonely looking to get picked up.


I checked every possible location. No luck.


I walked away half an hour later in the rain wondering what sort of loser looks for rice pudding at ten o’clock on a Saturday night.


I thought of Rumi saying sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.
But I didn’t have any cleverness to sell.

Duck and Cover!

Duck and cover!
Head down! Hands behind head!
Knees on floor!

You are Hieronymus Bosch! Imagine flame! Smoke!

As if they were saying,
‘You are now a fish or a block of wood.’
‘We’ve got you where we want you.’

Did no parents, even once, wonder?
Or had the anesthesia already
kicked in.

Remain motionless!

Photos found online of school building and schoolchildren participating in ‘Duck and Cover’ exercises. I do not claim ownership of these images. I have used them to create new works for non-commercial purposes of parody, education, and commentary.

Here Comes the Monk With His Begging Bowl

  

All I did was dump coffee in the sink

And he appeared. He must have wanted to go on a trip, a journey or a jaunt, I doubt he wanted to be washed down the drain.

Which wasn’t the plan anyway. Not when there is so much to see everywhere, day or night, here or there.

And kindred spirits to discover.

With golden suns disguised as room-temperature metal beginning the process of your transformation. No matter how you begin.

Ruminations on Discarding a Drafting Table

Was it a mistake to throw out the old drafting table during my decluttering blitzkreig with its thousands of hours of receptivity to mark making, creating & colouring upon a flat screen opening to the unknown through seasons of catastrophe, celebration, and hope

Only to discover new ones at the same price, half the size, rickety, like stacking plastic toy soldiers until they fall to the floor beside the laundry and a coupon expired

Standing half as tall – is this how people live today – cramped / like ceilings pressing at odd angles, like too much irony or TV news or variety shows with varieties of one crop farming

In the city I discarded what I could squeeze into a hole, after it made itself known, who could fail to notice this hole, brazenly tapping at the doorway like trance drumming & insisting on action

As loud as a hole can be without attracting the attention of other shapes competing for psychic food although that might be a personification best for allegory or proverb

& Even vibrations (especially vibrations!) passing into wood or metal created in the right spirit, I’m sure it was the right spirit, know they are the right size for the hole, the circle, the absence, the sun

Though saying goodbye to memories vanishing into & beyond the hole might be a mistake, if there are mistakes in the ecology of memory and in the shadow of labour – no I am sure there cannot be, and a goodbye is never a forever, yes it often is

In this new world, either squatting, or hiding from the enemy, or working within form shrinking from moisture or heat or time, one realizes a newer price will have to be paid for a full size, it’s no longer one size fits all, it’s no longer all at all

One might reclaim discarded memories in the hole though they float away forever, but the idea of agreeing, I think, is to create another hole, a flourishing courier system arriving in the future at the other doorway, or now, and how can any mistake be made while awaiting couriered delivery

Of it all & with a great sadness, goodbye

Walt Whitman in Stereo

‘I am large, I contain multitudes.’

‘I am large, I contain multitudes.’

 

 

 

How I (unexpectedly) Spent My Summer Vacation

An idea for a novel came upon / me.

Whoosh.

Two words.

The next night I dreamed the title.

Five words.

I didn’t see any connection

between the title

and the idea.

I wrote on paper with 3 holes / long-hand / daily, and typed those pages.

No matter the words – I simply transcribed.

If I heard it in my head I wrote it.

No argument.

72 days later I had a first draft. And editorial notes for each segment.

I stapled each batch and stacked them on top of a cold radiator.

The typed pages are in the computer.

I emailed them to myself daily.

I didn’t edit the material

or refashion it.

I treated it like poetry

with a germination period,

alone in the dark.

 Just allow it / to arrive

from surprise destinations.

It’s in the dark now.

Whoosh.

Out of nowhere / it never failed

to arrive.

Like arriving from darkness.

A novelist told me the first draft

is the most difficult part

of the process.

This didn’t feel difficult.

Perhaps laborious.

I hope this is a good sign.

A sign in the dark.

Follow darkness

until the sign

arrives.

Whoosh.

 

 

Drawing 14 assumes new form

After I broke (shattered!) my ankle I began drawing for long periods in bed.

I used a Sharpie marker on lined paper and numbered the drawings.

Sometimes I titled the drawings and indicated how I might use them, a linocut or a painting.

Drawing 14 broke free of its mooring and reappeared after traveling through several rooms.

I recreated Drawing 14 using digital tools.

1 + 4 = 5. Some people say 5 is a dynamic number of change. An indicator of flux, of positive movement,

& some things never reappear & you realize there might be something else, down in the roots, you need to want more.

And you experience both mystery and loss

while wearing wings and antlers.

Wherever those came from.